Howard Quilling (b. 1935) was born in Enid, Oklahoma and grew up in Napa CA. He received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music from the University of Southern California and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He studied music composition with Ingolf Dahl, Robert Linn, David Raksin, Ernst Kanitz, Emma Lou Diemer, Edward Applebaum, and Peter Racine Fricker.
In 1971 Quilling accepted a position at Bakersfield College to each music theory and composition. In 1981 he was appointed Composer in Residence. Quilling retired from Bakersfield College in 1996, although he still taught part time until 2002.
In 1988 he established the New Directions Concert Series under the auspices of the Bakersfield Symphony. The Bakersfield Symphony has premiered two of his overtures: Mountain Streams in 1996 and From Quiet Beginnings , commissioned by the Symphony for the Centennial Celebration of the City of Bakersfield in 1998. In 2000 From Quiet Beginnings was recorded by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra for the MMC label. He has received a number of other commissions and awards and has works published by, Fred Bock Music Company, North/South Editions, Small Rose Printing, and Howard Quilling Editions. Recordings of his music are on the Vienna Modern Masters label and on the North/South label.
Max Lifchitz, director of North/South Consonance, has premiered five of Howard's compositions and has given over 20 performances of his works. For the tenth anniversary of North/South Consonance Max Lifchitz commissioned Howard's Concerto for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra. The resulting concerto also received a Meet the Composer Award for the premiere on June 5, 1990. In 2003 Quilling's String Trio was awarded the William Lincer Foundation Award. In the past four years (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) he has had works performed by the Avenue Winds in the San Francisco Chamber Wind Festival.
Quilling has written over 200 compositions, encluded in his output are works for orchestra, symphonic band, various chamber ensembles, chorus, solo vocal, and solo compositions for various instruments. His works have been performed in many locales. Quilling is a member of NACUSA, SCI, American Composers Forum, AGO, and BMI.